John F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy, Jr. at th...

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I’m not sure if the practice of naming one’s offspring after one’s self is still customary these days but when I was growing up, I often encountered an acquaintance, classmate or friend who is named after one of his/her parents or some other relative.  It was not uncommon to have “juniors” or “II,” “III,” “IV” and so on, attached to people’s names.  The practice dates back many many years, from as far back as the Byzantine empire, and through the centuries. It was not uncommon for European monarchies to repeat names over and over.  More recently, one can look at the Hearsts, the DuPonts, the Kennedys, and even the recent Bush presidents, to see that the practice has persisted.

What is it about some families or parents that they would want to have many members of their family with the same name? Surely, it provides for a lot of confusion, especially if all such namesakes are within earshot of one another.  How would you like it if you yelled, “John, dinner’s ready!” And three people replied to your summons?

Is it a lack of imagination in some families or the lack of time and effort put into finding the right name for a new member of the family?  Or is it more the obsession with A NAME in particular?  I know of a family who seemed obsessed with namesakes.  The father’s name was Felipe and the mother’s was Regina.  They had 12 children and they proceeded to name them after themselves.  And so, the children had to resort to a lot of creativity in choosing nicknames to distinguish one from the other.  For the boys, the siblings were nicknamed, Phil, Philip, Ipe, Fel, Third (for the III so named), etc. The girls were called Reggie, Gina, Regine, Ginny, etc.  You get the drift.

In some families, a particular family member may have gained fame, respect, social standing, even fortune, and by naming another member the same name, usually one in the next generation, does the family hope the fame and fortune could rub off and stay within the family a little longer?  Perhaps, another generation? And continue on?

Has anyone dared to ask a “junior” or whatever rank someone is in a long line, how they feel about being bestowed THE NAME, and all its implications?  To be a namesake of someone larger than life, someone accomplished, famous, and successful, can be daunting.  He/she would have large shoes to fill.  And is the heir to the title, so to speak, necessarily ready, willing, and able?  What if they just wanted a quiet obscure life for themselves?  Too late!  The name dictates the requisite performance. In fact, it may be the perfect set-up for failure and disappointment, because no matter what they do, they would never live up.   Their situation, circumstance, the world they have grown up and lived in, would surely be different from that of the successful predecessor.  And so, unless the stars are all aligned in the same way and the heavens have decided to smile upon them, how could they replicate the glory, the success story?

Some people name their children after a favorite parent, aunt or relative. It may be to pay tribute to the relative.  Some people name their children after themselves, thinking that long after they are gone from the world, their name will live on as evidence they walked the earth.  Whatever reason it is, people need to be careful what they choose to name their children.  It could unnecessarily put additional pressures on a child who is already carrying so many unspoken expectations on their shoulders.


This entry was posted in Culture, Family, Family Blood Lines, Family Members, Family Names, Issues & Trends, Juniors, Names, Namesakes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Namesakes


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